After that last round of footy, when the dust settled, this tipster had brought home seven from eight tips in the NRL and six from seven in the ISC. Some of that had to be down to luck but it’s nice to finally get some. What’s more amazing is that I was let down in the NRL by the least likely contender: the Storm. Melbourne dropped what should have been a sitter of a game, probably because Cam Smith was out
injured suspended, wrecking my perfect round.
Overall, tipping is starting to tick back to the 56-57% mark, which is about where you’d be in a normal season by the tipping the home teams. This time last year I was only on 48, so 50 is an improvement, despite the topsy turvy nature of the results so far. Normally, tipping improves over the course of the season, as crap teams become apparent and then stop trying once they’re out of contention.
Manly at Canberra
Urgh. Off the bat, Manly beat both Brisbane and Melbourne and will be feeling pretty darn good about themselves. I don’t think they should because the club hasn’t solved any of it’s fundamental on-field issues (off-field issues have gone strangely quiet) but did manage to get lucky two weeks running in getting an average Broncos and a good Storm outfit on their respective off days. Daly Cherry-Evans is still running around without a halves partner, which makes reading Sea Eagles attacking plays easier than Dr Suess. The Trbojevic brothers may have found some form and Marty Taupau seems to be intent on leading from the front but that’s hardly the rock solid foundation of a team that’s going to make the finals. Avoid the wooden spoon, maybe, but September footy? Get out of it.
Someone at the Raiders, possibly Aidan Sezer, must have a huge gambling problem. There’s no other way to explain how Canberra can consistently lose so many games by so few points. I guess the alternative, that the team isn’t very fit and lacks suitable tactical direction from their coaching staff to get the best out of their reasonably talented line up (‘get Leilua to throw it to Rapana and hope’ is not a strategy), is a possibility but a remote one. One or two games aside, the Raiders haven’t been a lot of fun to watch this year. For their sake, we hope something clicks soon but at this point, after an entire 2017 season and the first half of 2018, if it hasn’t happened yet, what are the odds of it happening later?
On results this year, the Raiders are actually the stronger team. They’ve been closer to better teams than Manly have been, if we ignore their two flukes. Canberra are about the point where they are due a win and Manly are definitely due a loss. In order to restore some balance to the universe, I’m going the Raiders.
St George Illawarra at Penrith
This is an excellent game in prospect. Unlike when the Dragons met the Storm earlier in the year, we hope this won’t be a fumble-fest unfitting of the sport of rugby league, let alone two of the top teams in the world.
There’s not much left to say about St George Illawarra other than the fandom should enjoy this level of competence while it lasts. Origin is just around the corner and about half the team, particularly in the forward pack, is about to be selected for the Blues. How the team withstands that level of rep scrutiny will be interesting moving forward. Up until now, they’ve taken on all comers and won, excepting the games against the Bunnies and the Warriors, where both teams had to play well above their already high level to compete for victory.
Penrith are not quite in the same boat, with their players receiving comparatively less attention. However, the Panthers have marched their way into second on the ladder and would need a 26+ point win here to move to the top spot. Some of that will be down to the draw, having only faced two real contenders: Souths in round 2 before they got going and Cronulla in round 7 before they went on their winning streak. That makes this not only important in the context of the premiership race but also as a test of just how good Penrith are.
I’m going against the Greeks, who have pegged Penrith mostly for homeground advantage in addition to their recent form. The Dragons need this win too much and will be strong to let the Panthers get a look in.
Canterbury at Wests
It’s the Aaron Woods Cup and what a momentous occasion it is, befitting that marshmallow of a prop. It feels strange to be thinking of this game as competitive. The Bulldogs are bad, the Tigers are, if not good, then at least okay. But the Tigers have been struggling of late and the Bulldogs haven’t looked completely useless in their last few games.
It just goes to show what qualitative analysis is good for: both teams are 1-4 over their last five games. Canterbury are 1479 on form and Wests are 1490. The Bulldogs have had a tougher time of it by comparison, losing their four to the Roosters, Broncos, Sharks and Panthers. I wonder if they’ve learnt anything by osmosis from their admittedly, surprisingly narrow losses, since I’m not entirely confident anything is coming from the coaching department. A bit of lustre has come off the Tigers, losing to luminaries like the Panthers and the Warriors and cellar-dwellers like the Knights and Eels. Their sole win came against a Cowboys side that is as well done as a Big Mac. A bit of Benji magic seems to be missing and while Luke Brooks is playing out of his skin, he’s too little to carry sixteen teammates. The injection of Josh Reynolds into the team may put them back on course.
That said, all the Bulldogs have going for them is David Klemmer and I don’t really have anything nice to say about Klemmer. Wests for a moral victory.
The Broncos have made a habit of losing to crap teams this year but they should be able to beat the Eels at home. Melbourne will bounce back hard from their loss to Manly and unfortunately North Queensland will be on the receiving end. On the other hand, at least Jason Taumalolo seems to be coming back into form. The Roosters will easily sweep aside the Titans or, more accurately, should do that but will make a meal of it. In one of the games of the round but for some reason has a fairly average MVR, I think the Warriors will be able to leverage their home town advantage to a win over the Bunnies. Newcastle without Pearce are like a ship without a rudder or an engine or a sail or indeed, most of the things we associated with ships and more resemble a crude raft, so Cronulla to take to six straight.
Central Queensland at Redcliffe
Christ, who scheduled this slaughterhouse for the TV slot? Redcliffe sit fourth on the ladder with a respectable 6-4 record. Central Queensland sit second last, on 3-7 equal with Mackay and Wynnum Manly, and that’s considered a good season by their standards. If you’re not familiar with the QCup, the Capras are basically Newcastle but without the 20,000 home crowds in crappy timeslots and without any light at the end of the tunnel.
While the Capras have staged a few upsets this year, their overwhelming ability to lose games, even in the face of all statistical reasoning, means the Dolphins should get home.
Lots of dissenting opinions in the Jury this week, which makes for interesting tipping, especially after last week’s success. Ladder leaders Burleigh will be all over the bottom feeders Mackay. In the clash of North-ish teams, I have the Pride taking this as the Devils’ heads will still be spinning after last week’s game against the Jets. Most of the Sunshine Coast’s talent is now in Melbourne but most of the Gold Coast’s talent is now at Tweed, so the Seagulls will their resurgence, now five wins on the trot after five straight losses to start the season. Easts are due for a win after a bad run and there’s no better way to tune-up than giving Wynnum Manly a bruising. I’ve got PNG breaking Townsville’s unbeaten run at the fortress that is Oilsearch in Port Moresby and Souths Logan to beat the unconventionally circus-like Ipswich.